Updated Mar 1, 2018

Scoop: Microsoft's Cortana has a new boss

Ina Fried, author of Login

Photo: Microsoft

Javier Soltero, who rose to a top role on the Office team after selling his startup to Microsoft, is taking on a big new challenge, Axios has learned. He's about three weeks into a new job as the corporate VP overseeing Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant.

The big challenge: Cortana, though omnipresent on the Xbox and Windows 10, has only limited use outside of Microsoft hardware and therefore gets far less attention, from both developers and consumers, than assistants from Amazon, Google and Apple.

"It's exciting It's challenging," Soltero told Axios. "It's candidly not what I expected would happen."

Soltero will report to Harry Shum, Microsoft's head of AI and research, as will Andrew Shuman, another corporate VP who runs Cortana's engineering.

What drew him? Soltero said that as an entrepreneur at heart, he knew if he stayed at Microsoft he wanted to work on something that only a big company could solve. And voice intrigued him.

"If I was to leave Microsoft and start another company I would be doing something related to voice," Soltero said.

A matter of trust: Making Cortana more useful will take work, but Soltero says it's not just about which assistant can perform more skills. "The real contest is about which company users will choose and entrust with essentially all of they information or the majority of their information."

One of Microsoft's big differentiators so far has been around privacy, particularly the ability to see and even edit what it is Cortana knows abut you. The challenge is that privacy alone tends to be a tough sell in tech. "A very private but mediocre experience will not win," he said,

Go deeper

Zuckerberg says Trump’s “shooting” tweet didn’t violate Facebook’s rules

Mark Zuckerberg at the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February 15. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Facebook did not remove President Trump's threat to send the National Guard to Minneapolis because the company's policy on inciting violence allows discussion on state use of force, CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Friday.

The big picture: Zuckerberg's statement comes on the heels of leaked internal criticism from Facebook employees over how the company handled Trump's posts about the Minneapolis protests and his unsubstantiated claims on mail-in ballots — both of which Twitter has now taken action on.

Updated 25 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,919,364— Total deaths: 364,459 — Total recoveries — 2,490,221Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,745,606 — Total deaths: 102,798 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  6. 1 sports thing: NCAA outlines plan to get athletes back to campus.

Trump says he spoke with George Floyd's family

President Trump in the Rose Garden on May 29. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, a black resident of Minneapolis who died after a police officer knelt on his neck on Monday.

Driving the news: Former Vice President Joe Biden said via livestream a few hours earlier that he, too, had spoken with Floyd's family. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee implored white Americans to consider systemic injustices against African Americans more broadly, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.